Next Article in Journal
Should Dogs and Cats be Given as Gifts?
Next Article in Special Issue
Stakeholder Perceptions of Threatened Species and Their Management on Urban Beaches
Previous Article in Journal
Frog Swarms: Earthquake Precursors or False Alarms?
Previous Article in Special Issue
Local Attitudes towards Bear Management after Illegal Feeding and Problem Bear Activity
Open AccessArticle

A Framework to Evaluate Wildlife Feeding in Research, Wildlife Management, Tourism and Recreation

Animal Welfare Program, University of British Columbia, 2357 Main Mall, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4, Canada
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Animals 2013, 3(4), 978-994;
Received: 13 August 2013 / Revised: 27 September 2013 / Accepted: 27 September 2013 / Published: 11 October 2013
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Urban Wildlife Management)
Human feeding of wildlife is a world-wide phenomenon with very diverse effects on conservation, animal welfare and public safety. From a review of the motivations, types and consequences of wildlife feeding, an evaluative framework is presented to assist policy-makers, educators and managers to make ethical- and biologically-based decisions about the appropriateness of feeding wildlife in the context of research, wildlife management, tourism and recreation.


Feeding of wildlife occurs in the context of research, wildlife management, tourism and in opportunistic ways. A review of examples shows that although feeding is often motivated by good intentions, it can lead to problems of public safety and conservation and be detrimental to the welfare of the animals. Examples from British Columbia illustrate the problems (nuisance animal activity, public safety risk) and consequences (culling, translocation) that often arise from uncontrolled feeding. Three features of wildlife feeding can be distinguished: the feasibility of control, the effects on conservation and the effects on animal welfare. An evaluative framework incorporating these three features was applied to examples of feeding from the literature. The cases of feeding for research and management purposes were generally found to be acceptable, while cases of feeding for tourism or opportunistic feeding were generally unacceptable. The framework should allow managers and policy-makers to distinguish acceptable from unacceptable forms of wildlife feeding as a basis for policy, public education and enforcement. Many harmful forms of wildlife feeding seem unlikely to change until they come to be seen as socially unacceptable.
Keywords: animal welfare; conservation; framework; harm; intentional feeding; provisioning; public safety; wildlife animal welfare; conservation; framework; harm; intentional feeding; provisioning; public safety; wildlife

1. Introduction

Feeding wildlife is a long-standing issue for wildlife managers and governments trying to reduce human-wildlife conflict [1,2,3]. Both unintentional and intentional feeding can cause harm to diverse wildlife species. Unintentional feeding occurs when wild animals are attracted to garbage, compost, landfills, gardens, fruit trees, pet food and other anthropogenic foods. Although these foods may improve welfare by reducing foraging needs in the short-term [4], in the long-term, anthropogenic foods can cause suffering [5,6], increased conflict with humans and the death of food-conditioned wildlife [2,7,8,9].
Intentional feeding of wildlife is necessary in captive environments where wild animals depend completely upon human husbandry (such as in wildlife rehabilitation). However, it also occurs across a spectrum of semi-captive and wild environments [10], the most widespread and socially accepted example being backyard bird feeding. Studies in Australia have investigated this popular activity to assess the extent of feeding, who feeds and the underlying motivations [11,12,13,14,15]; yet, the full ecological impacts of bird feeding are still poorly understood [16], and there is a lack of other comprehensive studies outside of Australia [17]. Globally, there are many other intentional feeding activities documented for species, like bears, ungulates, primates, sharks, dolphins and waterfowl; yet, few measure the long-term effects on the animals.
A general perception is that feeding wildlife recreationally does not conflict with conservation goals and, in some situations, may appear to contribute toward them; however, little research has focused on assessing these beliefs. The science of animal welfare offers another approach by assessing whether feeding advances the quality of life of the individuals involved. Although animal welfare science has traditionally focused on harm to animals under direct human care (farm, companion and captive animals), the science is also applicable to unintentional and indirect harm to free-living wildlife [18,19]. Animal welfare assessment considers if an activity promotes physical and psychological well-being, prevents suffering and allows animals to live in ways suited to their natural adaptations [20]. Further, gauging the harm of feeding wildlife should also consider the severity of the welfare effects (i.e., the number of animals affected, duration and the capacity of the animal to suffer) [21], which will vary according to the type of feeding and species involved.
Incorporating animal welfare concerns alongside conservation goals may seem inappropriate, because conservation operates at the level of species and ecosystems, whereas animal welfare focuses on animals as individuals [22]. Yet, animal welfare and conservation share a common goal of reducing harm to animals and the common problems of increasing human population and industrialization, which threaten ecosystems, populations and individual animals [19]. Where human-wildlife conflicts emerge and direct conservation goals are not affected, framing wildlife management issues with an animal welfare perspective may assist in resolving issues, e.g., [23]. This paper reviews the literature on the motivations and types of intentional feeding, examines specific cases involving bears and deer and proposes an evaluative framework for assessing when feeding is justifiable.

2. Types of Wildlife Feeding: Motivations and Outcomes

2.1. Motivations for Feeding Wildlife

Motivations for feeding wildlife include benefits to animals and benefits to people. Suggested benefits to animals include improved survival and breeding rates [24,25] and increased public awareness, leading to support for conservation [26]. Reported benefits to people include: pleasure from contact with nature; feelings of usefulness by providing food; gaining the trust of animals; education of both adults and children; entertainment; aesthetic benefits; and to observe or photograph animals [12,16,27,28,29,30].
Ethical reasons can also motivate people, as some people feel that feeding wildlife is a way of counteracting human actions, such as habitat destruction [15], and compensating for a lack of natural foods in urban/suburban environments [11]. The perception that feeding benefits and assists wild animals motivates others [27]. A blurred distinction between wild and domestic animals may be another underlying motive for feeding wildlife [29]. In an unusual case of persistent bear feeding in British Columbia, the feeder expressed a feeling of protection and attachment to “his” bears [31], and similar feelings were reported by individuals’ feeding birds in Australia [16].

2.2. Types of Wildlife Feeding and Outcomes

Four broad categories can be used to describe the types of intentional feeding of free-living wildlife: (1) research, (2) management, (3) tourism and (4) opportunistic.

2.2.1. Research Feeding

The feeding or ‘provisioning’ of free-living wildlife is used occasionally in scientific studies. Natural or novel foods are provided directly (by hand) or indirectly (at feeding stations), sometimes in an attempt to tame or habituate the animals, so that they can be observed and studied more closely. In Gombe, Tanzania, for example, food items were used to habituate chimpanzees to close human proximity in order to facilitate behavioural observations [32]. However, the feeding led to questions about the validity of the observations [33] and to interspecies aggression between chimpanzees and baboons [34], which caused poor welfare in some individuals.
Supplemental feeding may also be used to answer ecological and biological questions about a species, such as home range size, survival, growth rates, behaviour, reproduction and distribution [25,35,36], by removing or mitigating the effects of food as a limiting factor [24,37]. Feeding experiments with songbirds, for example, have revealed changes in singing and territorial behaviour [38], while provisioned woodland birds were observed to advance their nest construction [39]. Studies involving feeding today are generally short-term, involve small sample sizes, aim to avoid permanent food-conditioning and are overseen by research ethics committees when conducted by academic institutions. Research feeding studies are also important to improve the understanding of other types of intentional feeding to determine if there is broader applicability to other wild populations [17,40].

2.2.2. Management Feeding

Management or ‘supplemental’ feeding can be used to achieve conservation objectives, such as increased survival or reduced human-wildlife conflict. Such prescribed feeding can help to recover or re-establish species [41]. For example, feeding has been used to support the recovery of endangered species, like the Mauritius kestrel [42], bearded vulture [43] and Iberian lynx [44]. However, such efforts are not always without risk, as they can promote disease and infection [45,46]. Feeding is also used as a strategy to reduce human-wildlife conflict [47,48]. Some nature reserves allow for official feeding by reserve staff in an attempt to prevent conflicts that can arise from interactions with tourists who attempt to see (and sometimes feed) the animals; however, such interactions may not necessarily be curtailed by these efforts [49].
In North America, large-scale winter feeding of ungulates commonly occurs [50,51] with the intention of preventing deaths, controlling wildlife damage to agriculture and promoting hunting opportunities [52]. The supplemental foods, however, are also available to other species, such as raccoons and skunks. These mesopredators may be attracted to the area and thrive, potentially damaging the ecosystem [53]. In addition, the strategy can directly conflict with government wildlife health recommendations and can unnaturally inflate ungulate populations [54,55]. Further, the practice of baiting (supplemental feeding done to aggregate wildlife for capture or hunting) raises concerns for individual animal welfare and population health [52] and is seen as contradictory to the ethical hunting principle of ‘fair chase’ [56]. The transmission of parasites and disease, such as bovine tuberculosis and chronic wasting disease, at both types of highly frequented feeding sites may in fact be negating conservation goals [57,58,59,60].

2.2.3. Tourism Feeding

Wildlife tourism is a growing industry that provides visitors non-consumptive interactions with wild animals. Feeding can support tourism by making the animals predictably and reliably viewable. Examples of species fed in tourism include: primates that are fed, so that time-constrained tourists in Japan can see a “monkey-on-demand” [61]; brown bears that are led to Finnish-Russian feeding sites to entertain 4,000 visitors annually [62]; komodo dragons whose feeding attracts more than 30,000 visitors to Indonesia annually [63]; salt-water crocodiles lured by staged feeding cruises in Australia [64]; African wildlife drawn to safari lodges by carcass feeding or watering holes [65]; and dolphins, fish, stingrays and sharks that are fed in warmer climates, like Hawaii, Australia, South Africa, Mexico and the Caribbean [66,67,68,69,70].
The behavioural and ecological consequences of tourism feeding have been studied among aquatic and land-based species in both protected and non-protected areas. Feeding wild animals can affect both individuals and populations, as animals may experience food-based aggression and social stress [28]. Studies have also documented population-level changes in abundance [66], behaviour and distribution [67], as well as behavioural changes in inter-connected species [68] and overall ecosystem concerns [71].
For individual animals, research has shown that food-conditioned wildlife may suffer nutritionally, become dependent on unreliable food sources [5,72], habituate to people and become more susceptible to predators and vehicle collisions [72,73]. Even when such feeding programs are highly regulated, food-conditioned animals have a high potential for being harmed [74]. Other reported concerns include higher parasite loads [6] and decreased overall health, reproduction and fitness [69]. For example, research into dolphin feeding programs in Australia found increased survival of offspring when anthropogenic feeding decreased [70]. Intentional feeding is particularly concerning in such a highly social species as dolphins, since harmful behaviours can be learned from conspecifics [75].
Proponents claim that tourism feeding is a useful conservation tool to monitor populations [76] and that it promotes indirect conservation benefits through awareness [77]. Others suggest that the effects on individual animals are minimal and that economic benefits to local people are considerable [62,78]. Economic alternatives to tourism, such as hunting or land clearing for agriculture, may in fact be more detrimental to the wildlife, and thus, the net balance of positive and negative effects of wildlife tourism are often hard to determine [77]. In species, such as sharks, the indirect-use value from tourism even helps to ensure that a live animal is more desirable to the local economy than a dead one, benefitting both conservation and welfare [79]. Yet, the long-term animal welfare implications of wildlife feeding should still be studied and included in evaluating the acceptability of feeding.
In protected areas, feeding may contribute to good local public relations, but it can also devalue nearby wildlife research if animals are unnaturally drawn to people [68]. Even in non-protected areas, wild animals within viewing range are also within a range where they may cause nuisance to local residents [65]. Caution should be taken especially in tourism programs when feeding animals that pose lethal risks to people, as continuous and long-term feeding activities can lead to intra- and inter-species aggression [79]. Feeding can also act as a facilitator to the illegal pet trade, as wild animals habituated to tourists may be more vulnerable to poaching [80].

2.2.4. Opportunistic Feeding

Opportunistic feeding at roadsides, public spaces and in backyards allows individuals to interact closely with wildlife. Feeding wildlife in public locations is generally discouraged, and occasionally prohibited, but often involves species that are perceived as relatively harmless [2,81]. A common scene in North American parks is that of jays or chipmunks begging picnickers for an opportunistic meal [2], whereas in Asia and Africa, primates may be the local beggars [3,23]. The consequences of opportunistic feeding on migration patterns, non-target species, disease transmission and trophic cascades needs more study [17,25,82]. For highly food-conditioned and habituated animals, withdrawal of feeding can lead to increased stress and aggression as food becomes less and less available [2].
Wild bird feeding is the most popular form of wildlife interaction in Western culture [83], and its biological and conservation merits continue to be debated [25,38,40]. Provisioning inappropriate foods, the spread of disease at feeders and window strikes are the greatest animal welfare concerns of backyard bird feeding [11,84,85]. Feeding waterfowl is also an international phenomenon, but there is little known about its effects [83] aside from its contribution to environmental degradation and water pollution [71].
Opportunistic backyard feeding of raccoons, squirrels, skunks, bears, coyote and deer (either directly or indirectly via bird feeders) also contributes to poor welfare (as discussed above) and neighborhood nuisance issues in both urban and rural settings. Even before public safety becomes an issue: the animals may be trapped and relocated or killed by concerned residents. The extent of this feeding is difficult to assess, because unlike bird feeding, which can be estimated from the purchases of related supplies, most foods types are also used for human or domestic animal consumption.
In summary, there is little evidence of any benefit to the animals’ long-term welfare from opportunistic feeding. Recent evidence suggests that even winter bird feeding, although widely practised, may even be detrimental to some populations [86], contrary to popular beliefs. Feeding can cause some wildlife to lose their fear of people and associated flight response, leading to nuisance and/or aggressive behaviours [72]. In North America, sensational stories of humans or pets interacting closely with habituated bears and deer are not uncommon and spur considerable public debate over culling [87,88,89]. In a prominent case in Australia, the cull of food-habituated dingoes was ordered by the government after a deadly attack on a child [90].

3. British Columbia, Canada—A Case Study of Feeding Wildlife to Death

British Columbia (BC), Canada, has abundant populations of grizzly bear, black bear, moose, elk, deer and coyote, together with organized wildlife viewing opportunities for various species, including whales and eagles. Feeding for research or management is limited [52] and tourism feeding is not officially condoned for any species. Feeding of all “dangerous wildlife” (i.e., bears, cougars and wolves) is prohibited and subject to high fines [91]. Enforcement of this provincial law is complaint-based and currently does not include ungulate species. Backyard bird feeding is a popular pastime regulated only by local municipal bylaws that may seasonally restrict or prohibit feeders, due to the risk of attracting wildlife deemed “dangerous”. Generally, feeding of all wildlife in regional, provincial and federal parks is either prohibited or discouraged.
Nonetheless, recent incidents of feeding led to numerous wildlife deaths in the province. In summer, 2011, 24 black bears were killed by officials in the small town of Christina Lake after a high-profile and decade-long case of illegal bear feeding at a private residence [31]. Residents of the community knew about the feeding for years, but failed to see it as a serious form of animal harm, even after an earlier incident, when many bears had been killed [31]. A survey of the community highlighted a lack of education and enforcement on the issue [31]. Between December, 2011, and March, 2013, three communities (Cranbrook, Kimberley and Invermere) conducted controversial urban deer culls, removing 172 mule and white-tailed deer, in an attempt to reduce deer-human conflict [92,93,94,95]. Opportunistic deer feeding by locals is cited as one factor contributing to growing urban ungulate conflict in the province [96]. Unlike some deer culls in the US, however, these culls were not conducted to address risks associated with chronic wasting disease or lime disease, which are non-existent and rare (respectively) in the province [97,98]. Previous deer culls in BC had been limited to islands with sensitive and endangered habitats and sparse human populations [99,100]. An educational program to prevent human-wildlife conflict in BC had previously focused on human-bear interactions. However, due to increased (real or perceived) conflicts, the program has broadened to include other species, rebranded as WildSafeBC [101].
To describe the regulatory environment in the province, the authors reviewed wildlife feeding bylaws in BC’s 155 municipalities and found that 72% have no bylaws prohibiting intentional wildlife feeding or managing attractants, like garbage. Bylaws to manage garbage, generally requiring households to use wildlife-resistant containers and/or to put out garbage only on the day of collection, were present in 9% of communities. A variety of feeding bylaws exist in 12% of municipalities; some restrict feeding by species (deer, birds, pigeons and fur-bearers); several ban all feeding in parks; and a few prohibit backyard bird feeding annually between April and October. The final 7% had combined garbage/attractant and feeding bylaws. In summary, the regulation of wildlife feeding with bylaws is low and inconsistent in BC; although a few communities focus on selected problem species, in general, feeding is not seen as an enforcement priority, with few fines levied.
Overall, BC has fairly restrictive policies on research, management and tourism feeding, but current education and regulations to prevent opportunistic feeding appear minimal. Signage and threats of fines may not be as effective as peer pressure from members of the public who express disapproval of the activity and may be the most promising way to discourage feeding [102]. Opportunistic feeders are often well-intentioned, believing that feeding benefits or causes no harm to animals. However, without negative social feedback, they may not be aware that much feeding is inappropriate. Better management and education campaigns incorporating animal welfare into a framework to evaluate feeding activities may help people to recognize (and hence help to prevent) the harm that feeding often causes.

4. Framework for Evaluating Feeding

We propose that different types of wildlife feeding activities can be evaluated using three factors: the ability to control the activity (C) and its effects on conservation (E) and on the long-term welfare of animals (W) (Table 1). First, the ability to control the activity (regulate, monitor or intervene) is important to ensure that intended outcomes are achieved and to reduce personal safety risks to the public. The positive effects on conservation include contributing to the understanding of the species, saving endangered species and improving population survival. Activities that are of educational or economic value to the local people can also have positive effects on conservation, for example, by giving animals indirect-use economic value. The negative effects on conservation would include facilitating poaching and promoting the spread of disease. The long-term effects on animal welfare are influenced by the number of animals affected, the potential for physiological and physical stress, the duration of feeding relative to an animal’s life expectancy and whether it disrupts natural foraging. We recognize there are differences between individual animals, as well as differences between species, based on their potential to be habituated and to pose a physical threat to humans. Furthermore, research to date has studied the effect of feeding terrestrial species more than aquatic species; however, the framework is intended as a general guideline for assessment, which can be adapted to the many different species and circumstances involved.
Table 1. Wildlife feeding acceptability framework: four types of feeding activities evaluated by their ability to be controlled (C) and their effects on conservation (E) and animal welfare (W).
Table 1. Wildlife feeding acceptability framework: four types of feeding activities evaluated by their ability to be controlled (C) and their effects on conservation (E) and animal welfare (W).
Factors (C, E, W)ResearchManagementTourismOpportunistic
C: feasible to regulate/monitor/intervene+ ++− −
C: safe for the public + ++− *− *
E: contributes to understanding the species + +++
E: contributes to saving endangered species ++ +
E: contributes to population survival + *+ *
E: does not facilitate poaching or disease+− *− *
E: contributes to public education N/AN/A+/− **+ *
E: provides economic benefits N/A++/− **
W: effects relatively few animals + ++− ** − −
W: does not cause physiological stress to animal++− *− *
W: does not cause physical harm to animal+− *− *− *
W: affects only a small portion of lifespan+ ++− − *− − *
W: does not disrupt natural foraging+− − *− − *
Items are rated high (+ +), somewhat high (+), somewhat low () or low (− −), not applicable (N/A) based on general knowledge of the literature. The use of * indicates that the evaluation may vary for different cases; specifically, * = depends on the species involved and ** = depends on the tourism operator.
Using the framework in Table 1, we evaluated several reported examples of each type of feeding (research, management, tourism and opportunistic) in Table 2. We rated the acceptability of each example based on the three factors. For the most part, we deemed a feeding activity acceptable only if it could be controlled, if it had a beneficial conservation effect and if it did not compromise an animal’s long-term welfare. Considerations for the feeding effects on the conservation or welfare of non-target animals were also considered; that is, feeding may be deemed unacceptable if it has negative consequences for other species.
Table 2. Application of the wildlife feeding acceptability framework to reported examples of wildlife feeding based on their ability to be controlled, have beneficial effects on conservation and have a positive long-term effect on animal welfare.
Table 2. Application of the wildlife feeding acceptability framework to reported examples of wildlife feeding based on their ability to be controlled, have beneficial effects on conservation and have a positive long-term effect on animal welfare.
Feeding activity exampleAbility to be controlledBeneficial conservation effectPositive long-term effect on animal welfareFeeding acceptable?
Northern Goshawk study [36]+ +++Yes
Townsend’s Chipmunk study [37]+ +++Yes
Woodland bird study [38]+ +++Yes
Kestrel species recovery [42]+ ++ ++ +Yes
Winter deer feeding [57,58,59]No
Boar baiting [60]− −− −No
Dolphin feeding [74]No
Primate feeding [61]No
Bear feeding [62]No
Komodo dragon feeding [63]No
Shark feeding [79]+ / −*+ Yes *
Backyard bear feeding [31]− −− −No
Backyard bird feeding [17]+NeutralYes **
Dingo feeding [90]− −No
Items are rated high (+ +), somewhat high (+), somewhat low (), low (− −) or neutral; * depends on tourism operator; ** acceptable with conditions: appropriate food by species and season, prevention of non-target species attraction, does not increase the risk of predation (e.g., from cats) or of window strike and does not increase intra- or inter-species aggression.

5. Discussion

According to the criteria proposed, many research and management feeding programs would appear acceptable, because they can be controlled, are intended to benefit populations and may improve individual welfare. In contrast, most baiting intended to increase hunting opportunities would be judged unacceptable, because it does not benefit the animals’ long-term welfare or conservation, is difficult to control and may expose both target and non-target animals to disease and increased human-wildlife conflict [41,53]. There is a need for wildlife managers to clearly communicate the objectives and benefits of feeding programs so as to distinguish acceptable feeding, notably in research and management, from other types.
In most of the tourism examples evaluated, feeding was deemed unacceptable. Even in highly regulated activities with relatively harmless animals, any short-term benefit to the animals’ welfare appeared to be far outweighed by the negative long-term effects of poor physical and psychological health and the production of unnatural behaviours. Understandably, feeding in tourism is appealing to both tourists and companies, because it can increase the potential of seeing otherwise elusive and exotic animals [72]. However, encouraging the feeding of certain animals in certain places, as in tourism feeding, can contribute to public misunderstanding about the overall risks of wildlife feeding, e.g., [23].
Opportunistic feeding often leads to negative welfare and/or human-wildlife conflicts for mammals and some bird species, in addition to being poorly controlled and serving no conservation purpose. As seen in the BC case studies, the feeding of deer and bears (as well as many other species) will continue to trouble communities without effective local bylaws, enforcement and education. Such feeding can lead to animals being culled or relocated, with negative effects on their welfare [103]. These traditional conservation tools, targeting wildlife rather than human behaviour, have limited short-term success and may not be accepted by the public [104]. There is an ongoing need for research to measure the effectiveness of communication, education and links between attitudes and behaviour-modification to improve programming over time [105,106]. Repeat feeding offenders need to be monitored and fined consistently and community support against feeding encouraged, as, often, locals are aware of the problem before the authorities are [31].
Wildlife feeding is often claimed to be an enjoyable and beneficial conservation activity. According to the analysis proposed above, feeding is unacceptable in a great many circumstances. The variety of possible feeding interactions, the range of underlying motivations, the benefits and risks to animals and the inconsistency of approaches to restrict feeding present a confusing situation for wildlife managers. The framework presented here could help managers and educators communicate with the public about which types of feeding are acceptable and unacceptable. This would improve the current status of mixed messages regarding feeding; for example, the acceptability of winter supplemental feeding and feeding exotic animals as a tourist attraction, when similar feeding in parks or backyards is discouraged.
Currently, options for managing wildlife feeding include prohibition, ignoring the problem or managing the feeding [72]. However, bans are unrealistic for some types of feeding, and current approaches towards regulated and unregulated feeding programs lack consistency. A more promising approach may be to change public perceptions about wildlife feeding through repeated education and regular enforcement. Forms of feeding that are dangerous to animals, for example, by creating disease risk or human-wildlife conflict, need to become socially unacceptable. The proposed evaluative framework may assist policy-makers, educators and wildlife managers in establishing which feeding is acceptable, so that unacceptable forms can be targeted through regulations and social pressure.

6. Conclusions

In summary, many wildlife feeding activities lead to problems of public safety, conservation and animal welfare. By considering these types of effects in combination, managers and policy-makers may be able to identify acceptable and unacceptable forms of wildlife feeding as a basis for regulations, public education and enforcement.


Sincere thanks are extended to Victor Chan, Elaine Wu and Cathy El-Hinn for their assistance in bylaw data collection. Nicole Fenwick, Carol Morgan and Howie Harshaw are kindly acknowledged for feedback on the original manuscript. Three anonymous reviewers are thanked for their constructive comments. Funding was provided by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the University of British Columbia Animal Welfare Program.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

References and Notes

  1. Southwick, C.H.; Siddiqi, M.F.; Farooqui, M.Y.; Pal, B.C. Effects of artificial feeding on aggressive of rhesus monkeys in India. Anim. Behav. 1976, 24, 11–15. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  2. Marion, J.; Dvorak, R.; Manning, R.E. Wildlife feeding in parks: methods for monitoring the effectiveness of educational interventions and wildlife food attraction behaviors. Hum. Dimens. Wildl. 2008, 13, 429–442. [Google Scholar]
  3. Pragatheesh, A. Effect of human feeding on the road mortality of Rhesus Macaques on National Highway—7 routed along Pench Tiger Reserve, Madhya Pradesh, India. J. Threat. Taxa 2011, 3, 1656–1662. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  4. Beckmann, J.P.; Berger, J. Rapid ecological and behavioural changes in carnivores: The responses of black bears (Ursus americanus) to altered food. J. Zool. 2003, 261, 207–212. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  5. Semeniuk, C.A.D.; Speers-Roesch, B.; Rothley, K.D. Using fatty-acid profile analysis as an ecologic indicator in the management of tourist impacts on marine wildlife: A case of stingray-feeding in the Caribbean. Environ. Manage. 2007, 40, 665–677. [Google Scholar]
  6. Semeniuk, C.A.D.; Bourgeon, S.; Smith, S.L.; Rothley, K.D. Hematological differences between stingrays at tourist and non-visited sites suggest physiological costs of wildlife tourism. Biol. Conserv. 2009, 142, 1818–1829. [Google Scholar]
  7. Peine, J.D. Nuisance bears in communities: Strategies to reduce conflict. Hum. Dimens. Wildl. 2001, 6, 223–237. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  8. Thiemann, G.W.; Stahl, R.S.; Baruch-Mordo, S.; Breck, S.W. Trans fatty acids provide evidence of anthropogenic feeding by black bears. Human-Wildlife Conflicts 2008, 2, 183–193. [Google Scholar]
  9. Hoffman, T.S.; O’Riain, M.J. Monkey management: Using spatial ecology to understand the extent and severity of human-baboon conflict in the Cape Peninsula, South Africa. Ecol. Soc. 2012, 17. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  10. Orams, M.B. A conceptual model of tourist-wildlife interaction: The case for education as a management strategy. Aust. Geog. 1996, 27, 39–51. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  11. Rollinson, D.; Jones, D.N. The practice of wildlife feeding in suburban Brisbane. Corella 2003, 27, 52–58. [Google Scholar]
  12. Ishigame, G.; Baxter, G.S. Practice and attitudes of suburban and rural dwellers to feeding wild birds in Southeast Queensland, Australia. Ornithol. Sci. 2007, 6, 11–19. [Google Scholar]
  13. O’Leary, R.; Jones, D.N. The use of supplementary foods by Australian magpies (Gymnorhina tibicen): Implications for wildlife feeding in suburban environments. Austral Ecol. 2006, 31, 208–216. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  14. Jones, D.N.; Howard, P. Feeding wildlife—An indecent obsession. Wildlife Aust. 2001, 38, 18–20. [Google Scholar]
  15. Howard, P.; Jones, D.N. A qualitative study of wildlife feeding in south-east Queensland. In Urban Wildlife: More than Meets the Eye; Lunney, D., Burgin, S., Eds.; Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales: Mosman, New South Wales, Australia, 2004; pp. 55–62. [Google Scholar]
  16. Jones, D. An appetite for connection: Why we need to understand the effect and value of feeding wild birds. Emu 2011, 111. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  17. Jones, D.N.; Reynolds, S.J. Feeding birds in our towns and cities: A global research opportunity. J. Avian Biol. 2008, 39, 265–271. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  18. Fraser, D.; Macrae, A.M. Four types of activities that affect animals: Implications for animal welfare. Anim. Welf. 2011, 20, 581–590. [Google Scholar]
  19. Dubois, S.; Fraser, D. Rating harms to wildlife: A survey showing convergence between conservation. Anim. Welf. 2013, 22, 49–55. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  20. Fraser, D. Understanding Animal Welfare: The Science in its Cultural Context; Wiley-Blackwell: Oxford, UK, 2008. [Google Scholar]
  21. Kirkwood, J.K.; Sainsbury, A.W.; Bennett, P.M. The welfare of free-living wild animals: Methods of assessment. Anim. Welf. 1994, 3, 257–273. [Google Scholar]
  22. Soulé, M.E. What is conservation biology? BioScience 1985, 35, 727–734. [Google Scholar]
  23. Baker, L.; Dubois, S. We have never experienced bad baboon behaviour to this extreme. Cape Times 2012. [Google Scholar]
  24. Martin, T.E. Food as a limit on breeding birds: A life-history perspective. Annu. Rev. Ecol. Syst. 1987, 18, 453–487. [Google Scholar]
  25. Robb, G.N.; McDonald, R.A.; Chamberlain, D.E.; Bearhop, S. Food for thought: Supplementary feeding as a driver of ecological change in avian populations. Front. Ecol. Environ. 2008, 6, 476–484. [Google Scholar]
  26. Cannon, A. The significance of private gardens for bird conservation. Bird Conserv. Int. 1999, 9, 287–297. [Google Scholar]
  27. Horvath, T.; Roelans, A.M. Backyard feeders: Not entirely for the birds. Anthrozoös 1991, 4, 232–236. [Google Scholar]
  28. Lott, D.F. Feeding wild animals: The urge, the interaction and the consequences. Anthrozoös 1996, 1, 255–257. [Google Scholar]
  29. Wiles, R.A.; Hall, T.E. Understanding Visitor Attitudes, Beliefs, and Motivations about Feeding Wildlife; Report for the Department of Resource Recreation; University of Idaho: Moscow, ID, USA, 2003. [Google Scholar]
  30. Horn, D.J.; Johansen, S.M. A comparison of bird-feeding practices in the United States and Canada. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 2013, 37, 293–300. [Google Scholar]
  31. Dubois, S.; Fraser, D. Local attitudes towards bear management after illegal feeding and problem-bear activity. Animals 2013, 3, 935–950. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  32. Goodall, J. The Chimpanzees of Gombe: Patterns of Behaviour; Harvard University Press: Cambridge, MA, USA, 1986. [Google Scholar]
  33. Reynolds, V. How wild are the Gombe chimpanzees? Man 1975, 10, 123–125. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  34. Wrangham, R.W. Artificial feeding of chimpanzees and baboons in their natural habitat. Anim. Behav. 1974, 22, 83–93. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  35. Boutin, S. Food supplementation experiments with terrestrial vertebrates: Patterns, problems, and the future. Can. J. Zool. 1990, 68, 203–220. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  36. Ward, J.M.; Kennedy, P.L. Effects of supplemental food on size and survival of juvenile Northern Goshawks. Auk 1996, 113, 200–208. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  37. Sullivan, T.P.; Sullivan, D.S.; Krebs, C.J. Demographic responses of a chipmunk (Eutamias townsendii) population with supplemental food. J. Anim. Ecol. 1983, 52, 743–755. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  38. Saggese, K.; Korner-Nievergelt, F.; Slagsvold, T.; Amrhein, V. Wild bird feeding delays start of dawn singing in the great tit. Anim. Behav. 2011, 81, 361–365. [Google Scholar]
  39. Smith, J.A.; Harrison, T.J.; Martin, G.R.; Reynolds, S.J. Feathering the nest: Food supplementation influences nest construction by Blue (Cyanistes caeruleus) and Great Tits (Parus major). Avian Biol. Res. 2013, 6, 18–25. [Google Scholar]
  40. Harrison, T.J.E.; Smith, J.A.; Martin, G.R.; Chamberlain, D.E.; Bearhop, S.; Robb, G.; Reynolds, S.J. Does food supplementation really enhance productivity in breeding birds? Oecologia 2010, 164, 311–320. [Google Scholar]
  41. Martínez-Abraín, A.; Oro, D. Preventing the development of dogmatic approaches in conservation biology: A review. Biol. Conserv. 2013, 159, 539–547. [Google Scholar]
  42. Jones, C.G.; Heck, W.; Lewis, R.E.; Mungroo, Y.; Slade, G.; Cade, T. The restoration of the Mauritius Kestrel (Falco punctatus) population. Ibis 1995, 137, 173–180. [Google Scholar]
  43. Oro, D.; Margalida, A.; Carrete, M.; Heredia, R.; Donázar, J.A. Testing the goodness of supplementary feeding to enhance population viability in an endangered vulture. PLoS One 2008, 3. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  44. López-Bao, J.V.; Palomares, F.; Rodríguez, A.; Delibes, M. Effects of food supplementation on home-range size, reproductive success, productivity and recruitment in a small population of Iberian lynx. Anim. Conserv. 2010, 13, 35–42. [Google Scholar]
  45. Blanco, G.; Lemus, J.A; García-Montijano, M. When conservation management becomes contraindicated: impact of food supplementation on health of endangered wildlife. Ecol. Appl. 2011, 21, 2469–2477. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  46. Palomares, F.; López-Bao, J.V.; Rodríguez, A. Feline leukaemia virus outbreak in the endangered Iberian and the role of feeding stations: A cautionary tale. Anim. Conserv. 2011, 14, 242–245. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  47. Jones, D.N.; Thomas, L.K. Attacks on humans by Australian magpies: Management of an extreme suburban human-wildlife conflict. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 1999, 27, 473–478. [Google Scholar]
  48. Kaplan, B.S.; O’Riain, M.J.; Eeden, R.; King, A.J. A low-cost manipulation of food resources reduces spatial overlap between baboons (Papio ursinus) and humans in conflict. Int. J. Primatol. 2011, 32, 1397–1412. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  49. Unwin, T.; Smith, A. Behavioural differences between provisioned and non-provisioned barbary macaques (Macaca sylvanus). Anthrozoös 2010, 23, 109–118. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  50. Smith, B.L. Winter feeding of elk in western North America. J. Wildlife Manage. 2001, 65, 173–190. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  51. Bartoskewitz, M.L.; Hewitt, D.G.; Pitts, J.S.; Bryant, F.C. Supplemental feed use by free-ranging white-tailed deer in southern Texas. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 2003, 31, 1218–1228. [Google Scholar]
  52. Dunkley, L.; Cattet, M. A Comprehensive Review of the Ecological and Human Social Effects of Artificial Feeding and Baiting of Wildlife: Including an Annotated Bibliography of the Scientific Literature; Canadian Cooperative Wildlife Health Centre: Saskatoon, SK, Canada, 2003. [Google Scholar]
  53. Cooper, S.M.; Ginnett, T.F. Potential effects of supplemental feeding of deer on nest predation. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 2000, 28, 660–666. [Google Scholar]
  54. Schwantje, H. Wildlife Health Fact Sheet 2009. “Winterkill” in coastal black-tailed deer. Government of British Columbia. Available online: (accessed on 2 August 2012).
  55. Schwantje, H. Wildlife Health Fact Sheet 2012. Feeding wild ungulates—Why it isn’t the answer. Government of British Columbia. Available online: (accessed on 2 August 2012).
  56. Organ, J.F.; Muth, R.M.; Dizard, J.E.; Williamson, S.J.; Decker, T.A. Fair chase and humane treatment: Balancing the ethics of hunting and trapping. T. N. Am. Wildl. Nat. Res. 1998, 63, 528–543. [Google Scholar]
  57. Spraker, T.R.; Miller, M.W.; Williams, E.S.; Getzy, D.M.; Adrian, W.J.; Schoonveld, G.G.; Spowart, R.A.; O’Rourke, K.I.; Miller, J.M.; Merz, P.A. Spongiform encephalopathy in free-ranging mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) and Rocky Mountain elk (Cervus elaphus nelsoni) in north-central Colorado. J. Wildlife Dis. 1997, 33, 1–6. [Google Scholar]
  58. Miller, R.; Kaneene, J.B.; Fitzgerald, S.D.; Schmitt, S.M. Evaluation of the influence of supplemental feeding of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on the prevalence of bovine tuberculosis in the Michigan wild deer population. J. Wildlife Dis. 2003, 39, 84–95. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  59. Rudolph, B.A.; Riley, S.J.; Hickling, G.J.; Brian, J.; Garner, M.S.; Winterstein, S.R. Regulating hunter baiting for white-tailed deer in Michigan: Biological and social considerations. Wildl. Soc. Bull. 2006, 34, 314–321. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  60. Navarro-Gonzalez, N.; Fernández-Llario, P.; Pérez-Martín, J.E.; Mentaberre, G.; López-Martín, J.M.; Lavín, S.; Serrano, E. Supplemental feeding drives endoparasite infection in wild boar in Western Spain. Vet. Parasitol. 2013, 196, 114–123. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  61. Knight, J. The ready-to-view wild monkey. Ann. Tourism Res. 2010, 37, 744–762. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  62. Kojola, I.; Heikkinen, S. Problem brown bears Ursus arctos in Finland in relation to bear feeding for tourism purposes and the density of bears and humans. Wildlife Biol. 2012, 18, 258–263. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  63. Walpole, M.J. Feeding dragons in Komodo National Park: A tourism tool with conservation complications. Anim. Conserv. 2001, 4, 67–73. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  64. Ryan, C. Saltwater crocodiles as tourist attractions. J. Sustain. Tour. 1998, 6, 314–327. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  65. Knight, J. Making wildlife viewable: Habituation and attraction. Soc. Anim. 2009, 17, 167–184. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  66. Clua, E.; Buray, N.; Legendre, P.; Mourier, J.; Planes, S. Effects of provisioning on shark behaviour: Reply to Brunnschweiler & McKenzie (2010). Mar. Ecol-Prog. Ser. 2101, 420, 285–288. [Google Scholar]
  67. Corcoran, M.J.; Wetherbee, B.M.; Shivji, M.S.; Potenski, M.D.; Chapman, D.D.; Harvey, G.M. Supplemental feeding for ecotourism reverses diel activity and alters movement patterns and spatial distribution of the southern stingray, Dasyatis americana. PLoS ONE 2013, 8. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  68. Milazzo, M.; Anastasi, I.; Willis, T.J. Recreational fish feeding affects coastal fish behavior and increases frequency of predation on damselfish Chromis chromis nests. Mar. Ecol-Prog. Ser. 2006, 310, 165–172. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  69. Fitzpatrick, R.; Abrantes, K.G.; Seymour, J.; Barnett, A. Variation in depth of whitetip reef sharks: Does provisioning ecotourism change their behaviour? Coral Reefs 2011, 30, 569–577. [Google Scholar]
  70. Foroughirad, V.; Mann, J. Long-term impacts of fish provisioning on the behavior and survival of wild bottlenose dolphins. Biol. Conserv. 2013, 160, 242–249. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  71. Turner, A.M.; Ruhl, N. Phosphorus loadings associated with a park tourist attraction: Limnological consequences of feeding the fish. Environ. Manage. 2007, 39, 526–533. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  72. Orams, M. Feeding wildlife as a tourism attraction: A review of issues and impacts. Tourism Manage. 2002, 23, 281–293. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  73. Donaldson, R.; Finn, H.; Calver, M. Illegal feeding increases risk of boat-strike and entanglement in bottlenose dolphins. Pac. Conserv. Biol. 2010, 16, 157–161. [Google Scholar]
  74. Smith, H.; Samuels, A.; Bradley, S. Reducing risky interactions between tourists and free-ranging dolphins (Tursiops sp.) in an artificial feeding program at Monkey Mia, Western Australia. Tourism Manage. 2008, 29, 994–1001. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  75. Donaldson, R.; Finn, H.; Bejder, L.; Lusseau, D.; Calver, M. The social side of human-wildlife interaction: Wildlife can learn harmful behaviours from each other. Anim. Conserv. 2012, 15, 427–435. [Google Scholar]
  76. Meyer, C.G.; Dale, J.J.; Papastamatiou, Y.P.; Whitney, N.M.; Holland, K.N. Seasonal cycles and long-term trends in abundance and species composition of sharks associated with cage diving ecotourism activities in Hawaii. Environ. Conserv. 2009, 36, 104–111. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  77. Green, R.J.; Higginbottom, K. The effects of non-consumptive wildlife tourism on free-ranging wildlife: A review. Pac. Conserv. Biol. 2000, 6, 183–197. [Google Scholar]
  78. Hammerschlag, N.; Gallagher, A.J.; Wester, J.; Luo, J.; Ault, J.S. Don’t bite the hand that feeds: Assessing ecological impacts of provisioning ecotourism on an apex marine predator. Funct. Ecol. 2012, 26, 567–576. [Google Scholar]
  79. Clua, E.; Buray, N.; Legendre, P.; Mourier, J.; Planes, S. Business partner or simple catch? The economic value of the sicklefin lemon shark in French Polynesia. Mar. Freshwater Res. 2011, 62, 764–770. [Google Scholar]
  80. Ménard, N.; Foulquier, A.; Vallet, D.; Qarro, M.; Le Gouar, P.; Pierre, J.-S. How tourism and pastoralism influence population demographic changes in a threatened large mammal species. Anim. Conserv. 2013. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  81. Mallick, S.A.; Driessen, M.M. Feeding of wildlife: How effective are the “Keep Wildlife Wild” signs in Tasmania’s National Parks? Ecol. Manage. Restor. 2003, 4, 199–204. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  82. Orros, M.E.; Fellowes, M.D.E. Supplementary feeding of wild birds indirectly affects the local abundance of arthropod prey. Basic Appl. Ecol. 2012, 13, 286–293. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  83. Chapman, R.; Jones, D.N. Just feeding the ducks. The Sunbird 2009, 39, 19–28. [Google Scholar]
  84. Robinson, R.A; Lawson, B.; Toms, M.P.; Peck, K.M.; Kirkwood, J.K.; Chantrey, J.; Clatworthy, I.R.; Evans, A.D.; Hughes, L.A.; Hutchinson, O.C.; John, S.K.; Pennycott, T.W.; Perkins, M.W.; Rowley, P.S.; Simpson, V.R.; Tyler, K.M.; Cunningham, A.A. Emerging infectious disease leads to rapid population declines of common British birds. PloS One 2010, 5. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef][Green Version]
  85. Klem, D., Jr. Avian mortality at windows: The second largest human source of bird mortality on earth. In Proceedings 4th International Partners in Flight Conference, McAllen, TX, USA, 13–16 February 2008; pp. 244–251.
  86. Plummer, K.E.; Bearhop, S.; Leech, D.I.; Chamberlain, D.E.; Blount, J.D. Winter food provisioning reduces future breeding performance in a wild bird. Sci. Rep. 2013, 3. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  87. CBC News. B.C. woman fights to keep deer in home. Available online: (accessed on 11 August 2009).
  88. Salem News. Yachats woman found guilty of harassing wildlife. Available online: (accessed on 2 June 2009).
  89. Mcginnes, J. Deer friends: Dog adopts orphaned fawn and their unlikely relationship is blossomin. Daily Mail Online. Available online: (accessed on 15 June 2012).
  90. Burns, G.L.; Howard, P. When wildlife tourism goes wrong: A case study of stakeholder and management issues regarding dingoes on Fraser Island, Australia. Tourism Manage. 2003, 24, 699–712. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  91. Government of British Columbia. Wildlife Act [RSBC 1996] Chapter 488. Available online: (accessed on 28 July 2012).
  92. CBC News. Cranbrook 1st B.C. city with permit to kill deer. Available online: (accessed on 14 December 2011).
  93. Estabrooks, J. Cull expires, protection group talks to council. The Columbia Valley Pioneer. Available online: (accessed on 16 March 2012).
  94. Klassen, A. Traps arrive for Invermere urban deer cull. Invermere Valley Echo. Available online: (accessed on 9 February 2012).
  95. Hopper, T. Saboteurs foil B.C. city’s plan to kill feral deer and feed them to the poor National Post. Available online: (accessed on 27 February 2013).
  96. Hesse, G. British Columbia Urban Ungulate Conflict Analysis. Available online: (accessed on 10 April 2012).
  97. Henry, B.; Morshed, M. Lyme disease in British Columbia: Are we really missing an epidemic? BC Med. J. 2011, 53, 224–229. [Google Scholar]
  98. Parmley, J.; Himsworth, C.; Nogueira-Borden, L. British Columbia Chronic Wasting Disease Risk Assessment; Ministry of Environment: Victoria, BC, Canada, 2008. [Google Scholar]
  99. Golumbia, T.E. A plan for the management of European fallow deer at Sidney Spit, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve. Parks Canada, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, Sidney, BC, Canada, Unpublished data; 2010. [Google Scholar]
  100. Gaston, A.J.; Golumbia, T.E.; Martin, J.-L.; Sharpe, S.T. (Eds.) Lessons from the Islands: Introduced Species and What They Tell Us about How Ecosystems Work: Proceedings from the Research Group on Introduced; Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada: Ottawa, Canada, 2008.
  101. Coastreporter, B.C. Rolls Out WildSafeBC. Available online: (accessed on 17 June 2013).
  102. McCleery, R.A. Improving attitudinal frameworks to predict behaviors in human-wildlife conflicts. Soc. Natur. Resour. 2009, 22, 353–368. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  103. Massei, G.; Quy, R.J.; Gurney, J.; Cowan, D.P. Can translocations be used to mitigate human-wildlife conflicts? Wildlife Res. 2010, 37, 428–439. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  104. Baruch-Mordo, S.; Breck, S.W.; Wilson, K.R.; Broderick, J. The carrot or the stick? Evaluation of education and enforcement as management tools for human-wildlife conflicts. PloS One 2011, 6. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  105. Gore, M.L.; Knuth, B.A.; Curtis, P.D.; Shanahan, J.E. Education programs for reducing American black bear-human conflict: Indicators of success? Ursus 2006, 17, 75–80. [Google Scholar] [CrossRef]
  106. Hockett, K.; Hall, T.E. The effect of moral and fear appeals on park visitors’ beliefs about feeding wildlife. J. Interpretation Res. 2007, 12, 5–27. [Google Scholar]
Back to TopTop